Halloween Squash Souffle

13 October 2011 § 10 Comments

Earlier this summer I randomly met the talented Kimberli Mackay. She is a milliner, cook, gardener and has a really informative blog called The Mackay Way, quite the renaissance gal. I love that there are so many interesting people in our town.

Last week we managed to get together for an Ottolenghi-inspired cookathon that involved making three dishes. These included a spooktacular soufflé, from the book, Plenty, accompanied by plenty of chopping, cooking, talking and, of course, eating in my kitchen.

Kimberli chopping herbs

I’ve had Yotam Ottolenghi‘s book Plenty for a while but have not got around to trying much from it. The book is beautifully shot and is full of tempting vegetable dishes. The recipes are predominantly middle Eastern combined with Mediterranean flavors – spicy, bold and fresh – guaranteed to whip your taste buds into a frenzy. He likes “noisy” flavors, such as lemon and chilli, which are right up my alley. So we meddled, muddled and adapted Yotam’s recipes to suit what we had available in the fridge and the garden.

As it is mid-October we just had to try the Halloween soufflé (read on for the recipe). I felt braver trying a soufflé with company as they can be daunting. I will have to make sure Kimberli is over next time I cook soufflés.

Not so scary Halloween souffles

We also made farro and roasted pepper salad. Farro is the Italian name for an old wheat variety similar to spelt or emmer. It has a delicious nutty flavor that supports the strong flavors of the oregano, paprika, oregano, feta, spring onions and garlic in this robust salad.

Farro with roasted peppers

We baked caramelized garlic tart – 100% guaranteed to keep the vampires away as it is made with three heads of garlic. Yes you read that right: three heads, not cloves. The tart was a stunning combination of puff pastry, oozing with cheese, heavy cream, caramelized garlic and thyme. We agreed that the addition of bacon or pancetta would have made it sublime.

Go on, count those cloves and weep

We were just about to get down to the serious business of eating when The Ladies™ came home from school. Even though they had eaten lunch at school I had to fight them off the garlic tart to get a few shots before they descended on it like a plague of locusts.

Trying to shoot the tart and keep The Ladies off it

Those pesky, but clean, little hands

So here is the recipe for the Halloween soufflés, so-called because the recipe calls for pumpkin, and not because you should be scared by soufflés. We made them less scary by using a combination of butternut and acorn squash. However I think pumpkin would give them a better flavor and a richer color. The hazelnuts give the soufflé a delicious nutty bite.

The soufflé’s base mixture, without the egg whites, can be made in advance and kept in the fridge. Bring back to room temperature before finishing the recipe.

I make no apologies for the recipe being in metric, soufflés are quite scientific and imperial measurements do not give the same level of accuracy.  I would hate for you to have a Halloween horror story of a sunken soufflé.

Ingredients

  • Approx 350g – 450g squash, with skin on (or pumpkin)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • ¼ tsp brown sugar
  • 35 g hazelnuts (skin on)
  • 30g melted butter, for the ramekins
  • 25g plain flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large free-range egg yolks
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp chopped sage (or marjoram)
  • 70g goat cheese grated
  • 3 large egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut the squash into chunks and scoop out the seeds. Place skin-side down on a roasting pan. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with the brown sugar and salt. Roast for about 45 minutes until the flesh is tender. Leave to cool, then scoop the flesh away from the skin and mash the flesh well. You will need exactly 120g for the soufflés.

Turn up the heat of the oven to 400°F and place a baking sheet on the top shelf. Put the ovenproof ramekins or soup bowls in the fridge to chill.

Grind the hazelnuts in a blender until powdery. Brush the cool dishes generously with melted butter, then put the hazelnuts in and turn the dishes to coat the sides and bottom.

To make the soufflé base, melt 25g of butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Gradually add the milk, stirring with a wooden spoon until it starts to bubble and thicken. In a large bowl, mix 120g of the squash, egg yolks, chilli, sage and cheese and ¾ tsp salt. Add the milk sauce and stir until smooth.

Beat the egg whites in a large, clean stainless steel or glass bowl, whisk until they are stiff but not dry. Add a little of the egg whites to the squash base and stir to loosen, then fold in the egg whites, taking care to retain as much air as possible.

Fill the bowls or ramekins up to about ½ an inch from the top. Place in the oven on the heated baking tray, and bake for 10-14 mins, or until golden brown and risen well.

Yotam suggests serving with sour cream and chives.  I’ll admit I totally forgot about the sour cream. I think I was so delighted my Halloween soufflés were not a horror show. So until next time when I make these with pumpkin instead of squash, and remember the sour cream.

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